Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 360–371 | Cite as

Use of Health Technologies for Low Back Pain in the Military Health System

  • Renee CavanaghEmail author
  • Anju Bhargava
  • Ann Gleason
  • Logan Micheel
  • Robert Ciulla
  • Tim Hoyt


Low back pain (LBP) is a widespread condition that poses specific occupational risks for active-duty military personnel. Barriers to treatment are also greater for military personnel and veterans. The authors conducted a review of the literature to identify technology solutions to help offset barriers to treatment for military personnel and veterans. Researchers conducted a PubMed search using subject headings and natural language terms and phrases. Three research psychologists screened abstracts and full text articles. After application of exclusion criteria, 28 key articles on treatment of LBP leveraging technology were included. There is evidence in medical literature for the efficacy of health technology in the treatment of LBP. Telehealth can be effective in reducing pain levels, and more convenient and cost-effective than treatment as usual (TAU). Smartphone and mobile apps are effective for managing LBP by providing self-management tools and tracking methods. Internet-based programs are highly accessible, cost-effective, and less stigmatized than TAU. Wearable technologies, such as biofeedback and electronic sensors, are effective for reducing pain and improve physical rehabilitation assessment and treatment for chronic LBP. Findings for emerging technologies are reviewed and discussed. Considerable evidence exists for incorporating technology into treatment programs for LBP. The most promising technologies were as follows: telehealth, internet-based programs, and mobile apps. Benefits of using technology in treatment programs included not only reduction in pain symptoms, but also enabling self-management, allowing anonymous participation, portability of treatment, and cost effectiveness.


Low back pain Mobile applications Pain management Telehealth Chronic pain 



The authors would like to recognize Patience Veloza for her assistance with the editing and manuscript preparation.

Author Contribution

All authors have read, reviewed, and approved the submission of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This manuscript does not report on a clinical trial.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Work for this article was completed by federal government employees or contractors supporting the Defense Health Agency. The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the US government, the Department of Defense or the Defense Health Agency.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Connected Health Branch, Clinical Support Division, Defense Health Agency (DHA)U.S. Department of DefenseTacomaUSA

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